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Ben Wallace lists out why LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan

Michael-Jordan-LeBron-James

As an All-Star who went up against both LeBron James and Michael Jordan in playoff series and the leading expert of the different defensive landscapes of each opposing era - Ben Wallace’s opinion on who is the greatest matters more than the average computer nerd. So after spending his well-earned retirement on Tiktok by the name of chltwn32, Wallace has tipped LeBron as the greater of the two, and this is where he believes the differences lie.

Categories

1. Finishing 

Wallace’s Tip: LeBron James 

2. Midrange Scoring

Wallace’s Tip: Michael Jordan 

LeBron’s Career Average: 72 FG% from within the three-point line

Jordan’s Career Average: Stat is unavailable during his Bulls days.

It might also be noted that the most significant difference in eras was the defense under the rim. While LeBron is bigger and arguably better in that zone, he had this generational advantage of taking less contact. 

But the midrange was Jordan’s bread and butter - especially in the second half of his career. 

3. Three-point shooting

Wallace’s Tip: LeBron James

LeBron’s Career Average: 1.5 3P on 36.2 3P FG%

Jordan’s Career Average: 0.5 3P on 32.7 3P FG% 

LeBron’s Best Year: ’22 - 2.9 3P on 36.2 3P FG%

Antetounmpo’s Best Year: ‘96 - 1.4 3P on 43% 3P FG%

4. Passing

Wallace’s Tip: LeBron James

LeBron’s Career Average: 7.4 APG 

Jordan’s Career Average: 5.3 APG

LeBron’s Best Year: ‘20 - 10.2 APG 

Jordan’s Best Year: ‘89 - 8 APG

5. Handles

Wallace’s Tip: Michael Jordan 

LeBron handles the ball more and has his signature between the legs pull up from three. 

Jordan excelled more off the ball and post-ups aiming for easy, quick jump shots. 

6. Perimeter Defense

Wallace’s Tip: Michael Jordan

7. Interior Defense 

Wallace’s Tip: LeBron James

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LeBron’s Career Defensive Rating: 103.6

Jordan’s Career Defensive Rating: 102.7 

LeBron’s Career Average: 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Jordan’s Career Average: 2.3 SPG, 0.8 BPG

LeBron: 0 DPOY, 6x Defensive Team

Jordan: 1 DPOY, 9X Defensive Team

8. All Around Scoring 

Wallace’s Tip: Michael Jordan

LeBron’s Career Average: 50.4 FG%

Jordan’s Career Average: 50.9 FG%

LeBron’s Best Year: ‘08 - 30.0 PPG

Jordan’s Best Year: ‘87 - 37.1 PPG

LeBron’s Scoring Titles: 1x

Jordan’s Scoring Titles: 10x

9. IQ

Wallace’s Tip: LeBron James

10. Leadership

Wallace’s Tip: LeBron James

Both are savants of the game, but it should be noted that LeBron won championships with mediocre coaches. Phil Jackson was by no calculation mediocre. 

11. Clutch

Wallace’s Tip: LeBron James

LeBron’s: 1 Conference Finals loss, 10 Finals Appearances, 4 Championships 

Jordan’s: 2 Conference Finals losses, 6 Finals, 6 Championships

* Jordan never went to a Game 7 in the Finals

12. Accolades 

Wallace’s Tip: Michael Jordan

LeBron: 17x All-Star, 17x All-NBA, 4x MVP 3X All-Star MVP, 1x Assist Champ, 4x FMVP

Jordan: 14x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 5x MVP, 3x All-Star MVP, 3x Steals Champ, 6x FMVP, 1X DPOY, 6x FMVP

Analysis

There are a few headscratchers with these picks, but then again, I didn't win 4 Defensive Player Of The Year awards. Either way, the clutch one stands out more than any other, and the reason seems pretty clear. 

On LeBron’s way to his first NBA Finals as a 22-year old, he scored 25-straight points on the Detroit Pistons their first year without Big Ben. The Cavaliers went on to win the game and then the series, forever embarrassing and ending the careers of Wallace’s best teammates and assumingly best friends. Either that or he genuinely believes LeBron was the greater of the two. I mean, does he need a personal bias to think it?

When you compare players like this - it seems obvious who was better. But that infectious philosophy of tallying up points from criteria does not prove who was better - it proves who was more versatile. I’m just a guy behind a computer but a 10x Scoring Champ, 1x DPOY, and 6x Champ are more than enough for me to pick my corner.

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